In June 2014 The TriSpace gallery at Bermondsey held an exhibition of new paintings, Crazy Over You, by co-founder of the Stuckists, Charles Thomson. It was a remarkable exhibition, in two ways: firstly the artist had suddenly changed his style in a radical manner and secondly, a large quantity of work had been produced in a very short time. I travelled from Wrexham in North Wales to the Private View in South London, curious to see this new work, and there was so much to see that I had to repeat the journey a week later.
The earlier style, with its flat areas of colour and precise black outlines had been replaced by a much more painterly yet still figurative style, with freer outlines of all colours and bursts of almost Abstract Expressionist colour everywhere.
There were too many different things to describe in detail here. Some of the paintings appeared to be very carefully worked out, while others seemed to have leapt onto the canvas purely by instinct, without any conscious thought. There was a big composition with a Gainsborough-type man, a dinosaur and a fairy which acted as a link with the earlier work and there was a smaller work (with a man with a top hat in it) with a much freer and softer treatment. There was a painting with an odd man on the right of the picture holding up an umbrella for a little woman on the left of the picture and in the far left corner of the gallery, three strange figures rowing a boat against a pure blue sky were in a class of their own.
I noticed many things in the second viewing which I'd missed in the Private View; for example, the Abstract Expressionist brush marks work remarkably well as references to, or in sympathy with, the real world. There are some exceptions, in which they work as pure expressionist colour.
There seemed to be all sorts of different possibilities for the future, latent in the exhibition.
Finally, it was interesting to be shown the "breakthrough" painting, Floating Faces, where the artist first began to break free from his earlier style. It is relatively small and I would not have been able to pick it out for myself. It is fascinating to think of all that work flowing from this one painting.John Bourne